Intel Starts to Sample Next-Gen SoC for Smartphones

Intel Medfield-Based Smartphones Due in 2011 - 2012

by Anton Shilov
12/10/2010 | 01:48 PM

Intel Corp. placed high hopes onto its code-named Moorestown (Atom Z600-series) system-on-chip (SoC) and expressed hopes that the first smartphones based on it would be released already in 2010. But at the recent Barclays Capital Technology Conference 2010 the head of the company said that smartphones with Intel inside would be released in the second half of 2011.


Although the Atom Z600-series will power a number of tablets based on Google Android or MeeGo operating systems, it looks like Moorestown has met neither Intel's nor its partners expectations. At present Intel expects smartphones with its SoCs inside only in the second half of next year. Moreover, it is highly likely that those smartphones will utilize Intel's next-generation code-named Medfiled SoC made using 32nm manufacturing process, nor current Moorestown that is produced at 45nm node.

"We have already produced our second-generation smartphone chip, which is called Medfield. It is presently in customer sampling. It is [designed for] phones to be shipped later in 2011 and 2012. You will see smartphones from premier market vendors with Intel silicon inside in the second half of next year," said Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, at the conference.

Mr. Otellini reiterated statements made to investors earlier in the year that the company is viewing the challenge in terms of a marathon and not a sprint. He went on to talk about important chip architecture transitions over the years, and predicted Intel would eventually gain a competitive advantage. This comes amid growing criticism from ARM and its licensees that Intel will not be able to get power down far enough to compete in smartphones.

"Getting chips for phone is a hard work, but it is not the main work. The biggest amount of the work has to do with the modem integration, the telephony stack, the protocol stack that you need, network certification and so forth. We are deep into that with our first-generation silicon for smartphones," stated the president and CEO of Intel.

Intel's processors have substantial performance advantages over ARM-based solutions already. Nonetheless, Intel's x86 platforms for handheld products still consume too much power to be utilized inside smartphones. Intel's current Moorestown has no actual design wins with smartphone manufacturers, but the ultra-mobile platform can be featured inside low-power tablets. Despite of the lack of any success in smartphones so far, Intel believes that with lower-power Medfield it will register design wins and after that will be able to offer both lower power consumption and greater performance than ARM-powered SoCs. One of the companies that may utilize Intel Medfield is Nokia, the largest maker of smartphones and mobile phones in the world.